Philosophy Today

Volume 68, Issue 1, Winter 2024

Special Topic: On Political Theology

Elettra StimilliOrcid-ID
Pages 41-53

Political Theology Put to the Test of the Unexpected

This essay returns to Jacob Taubes’s messianism in order to short-circuit a contemporary political and conceptual impasse between left- and right-wing Schmittianisms. It first seeks to expose the limits of both Schmitt’s originary political theology and post-war Italian Marxist rehabilitations of Schmitt, which, it is argued, remain caught in the same political-ontological matrix. To answer the question of what (if anything) might come after political theology, the essay turns to Jacob Taubes’s “counter-political theology” in order to find an alternative genealogy for modern democracy, not in Schmitt’s Christian conservative hierarchy, but in the antinomian and heretical elements within the Judaeo-Christian tradition. In conclusion, the essay argues that Taubes transforms the political theological impasse and makes possible a new reading of the contemporary political false choice we face between democracy and authoritarianism, liberal pluralism and populism.